Is The Bullworker Steel Bow A Smart Buy? [A Review]

bullworker steel bow review

The Bullworker Steel Bow is the newest version of a classic home fitness device that has been around for nearly 60 years. With portability more in mind, the Steel Bow is a smaller, more compact version of the isometric strength training machine. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the old school Bullworker, this device might not look like much- but looks can be deceiving.

But there are a ton of portable fitness machines available to us these days. I guess with so many of us working longer days and having to travel for work, fitness brands know there’s a huge need for devices that allow us to workout when we are away from home.

Can the Bullworker Steel Bow compete in a market saturated with fitness equipment? Is it a smart buy? Maybe. Keep reading to find out what the Steel Bow is all about and see if it is a good fit for your fitness needs.

What Is The Bullworker Steel Bow Anyway?

The Bullworker bows have been around since the early ’60’s. I had no idea what it was at the time, but I remember my parents had one in our basement when I was a kid. Me and my brothers would take turns trying to see who could push it or pull it the hardest. It was fun to play with, not to mention really difficult to compress.

Turns out they weren’t designed to amuse small children. Instead, they were created by German scientists to utilize isometric exercises to improve strength and overall well-being.

The original Bullworker had two telescoping cylinders in the middle with a spring in the middle. There were grips on each end and a pair of cables connecting the two ends. You could exercise by pulling on the cables in different manners or pushing the cylinders together.

It was designed with isometrics in mind because of all the research the inventors had conducted on the subject. They were convinced isometric contractions were the safest and most effective way to gain strength. The general consensus today agrees that isometrics can be a great way to gain strength.

Just to make sure we are all on the same page, an isometric exercise is one in which there is no movement involved- you hold a position (or weight) statically for a given amount of time.

Isometrics are nice because they are generally easier on the joints, since there is no repetitive movement involved. If you have joint pain or range of motion limitations, isometrics can be a great alternative (I know we often use them in the rehab world).

Anyway, the Bullworker bows have been upgraded and improved upon over the years, but the general mechanism of operation remains the same. Bullworker still recommends isometrics with their products, but they can also be used for traditional isotonic moves.

Nowadays, Bullworker really only produces 2 bows- the Classic version and the Steel Bow. The Classic is just the upgraded version of their original product that came out so many years ago. It’s the full size bow (36″) that’s designed for home use and can be used to perform a variety of exercises.

The Bullworker Steel Bow

The Steel Bow is a smaller version of the Classic, designed to be more portable. Some users complain that the smaller size makes it difficult to achieve full range on certain exercises, but you have to keep in mind it’s designed to be small on purpose- so you can easily throw it in a travel bag and hit the road.

When it comes to exercising on the road, I’m of the opinion anything is better than nothing. I don’t expect to get the best workouts of my life when I’m traveling. The fact that I can workout on the road is a perk in itself.

I would encourage folks to use the same logic when comparing the Steel Bow to the Classic- it may not be able to provide the same workout experience, but it shouldn’t be expected to.

Should we compare playing a Gameboy to the experience of playing a Wii on a 65″ television?

I get ahead of myself, let’s take a look at what the Steel Bow has to offer.


  • Very portable- allows you to workout while traveling or at work (or anywhere else)
  • Well built, durable design
  • Provides full body strengthening workout
  • Designed for isometric exercises, but works with any type of exercise
  • Comes with exercise guide
  • Free carrying case included
  • 3 different resistance springs included
  • Great warranty
  • Well priced


  • Some exercises difficult to do because of small size

Construction & Design

The Steel Bow utilizes the same general design of the Classic and the original Bullworker that came before it. This bow however, is only 20′ long and weighs about 4 lb. Steel cables run on either side of the center tubing and are strong enough to handle as much force as you can administer.

The handles at each end are molded for added comfort for your hands as well are the handles on each cable. One noticeable difference between the Steel Bow and the Classic- there are 3 cable handles on the Classic, only 2 on the Steel Bow. With the smaller size, there really isn’t room for the third handle.

Bullworker likes to think of the Steel Bow as their dumbbell and the Classic as their barbell- I think that’s a pretty accurate analogy.

This bow comes with 3 interchangeable springs, each providing a different level of resistance:

  • 0-32 lb (white)
  • 0-50 lb (gray)
  • 0-80 lb (black)

There’s also a little slider gauge on the tubing that measures how much force you are holding for each exercise. I remember this feature from the old one my parents had. It gives you a record to measure your progress as you get stronger- a nice touch.


Bullworker advertises that the Steel Bow can be used to get a full body workout. Some exercises are obvious, like the isometric pec fly where you hold the bow in front of you can compress the ends. Targeting other body parts might not be quite as obvious, luckily Bullworker includes a workout guide that shows you how to hit any muscle you want.

Bicep curls can be achieved by using the handles on the cables, lat “pulldowns” by compressing the bow against your leg or the floor, shoulders by compressing the bow above your head in any number of positions…

Think about it- all exercises really involve either pushing or pulling against something. The Steel Bow is designed to be pushed and pulled against.

The Steel Bow doesn’t offer as much variety as the Classic. It’s smaller size does have limitations, especially with leg exercises like calf raises and deadlifts. But again, this device is designed for travel. You could easily come up with a few dozen exercises to perform on the Steel Bow, which should be more than enough for a workout on the road.

Bullworker even provides a 30-min seated workout routine. Many users rave about it and love the idea of exercising from a seated position. It comes in especially handy for users with disabilities, where performing standing exercises might not be possible.

The Steel Bow is designed with isometric exercises in mind, but you can also perform isotonic (concentric and eccentric) moves if you prefer.

With the 3 different spring resistance levels, I think the Steel Bow is adaptable to any fitness level. Using a Bullworker bow is surprisingly difficult, actually. It takes strength and control to hold the different poses. Speaking of holding, Bullworker suggests holding the isometric moves for 7 seconds. Trust me- it’s easier said than done.

In terms of exercise variety, the Steel Bow has plenty to offer. Just keep in mind with the small size, you might not always be able to achieve your full range of motion.

What’s Included

If you purchase the Steel Bow, you get the bow (obviously) as well as the following:

  • 3 interchangeable springs
  • Instructional manual/workout guide
  • Carrying case
  • Non-slip pad (comes in handy when pushing the bow against the floor)

You basically get everything you need to start using the bow right out of the box. Speaking of which, there’s no assembly necessary, it’s ready to go as soon as you open it.

For the price, I think this is a pretty good package. It was nice of Bullworker to throw in the carrying case, that’s something I could see other companies making you buy separately.


The Steel Bow comes with the following warranty from Bullworker:

  • 5 year warranty
  • 90-day money back guarantee

For the price range, a 5 year warranty is really good for this product. A lot of products at this price point (and significantly more expensive) don’t offer a warranty nearly this good. I think this speaks loudly for the Bullworker brand. And you can’t beat a money back guarantee- it gives you a chance to try it out and see if you like it. If you don’t like it, send it back for a refund.

Final Thoughts

Bullworker has been in the home fitness game for almost 60 years and their bows really haven’t changed much in that time. I think the fact that their products are still relevant today says something for the foresight behind that initial design. I’m a big fan of the old saying- “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it”.

The Steel Bow falls into that category.

The biggest change Bullworker made with their newest version is that they made it smaller. The Steel Bow is designed for portability and as a portable strength training device it’s well equipped.

The Steel Bow is well-built, affordable, and very capable of helping you stay fit while you are away from home. I think it would be a great idea to keep one in your desk at work even- great way to get a quick workout during your lunch break.

Simply put, it’s a smart buy.

Overall, I think the Steel Bow can definitely compete with all the other portable fitness gear out there. In a world obsessed with fancy gadgets and gimmicks, it’s nice to come across a good ol’ fashioned fitness device that has passed the test of time.





Will's a licensed physical therapist with over 15 years of experience treating patients from all backgrounds. He's been lifting weights and exercising in one form or another since middle school and has been working out in his own home gym for over a decade. When it comes to fitness equipment, there isn't much he hasn't tried. In his spare time, if he isn't writing or working out, he's likely playing basketball, watching movies, or hanging with his family.


  1. I’m surprised to still see this around. I have my Bullworker that I bought in 1969, I was 14 years old. I used it a lot then to build my chest and arms muscles and have used it off and on over the past 50 years. I’m getting old and starting to acquire man boobs. LOL so I thought I would start using it again to tighten things up a bit. Just got online to see if I could find the workout routine and sure enough. This is one of the best and easiest devices I have ever owned for keeping in shape. I paid $39 for mine out of a mail order catalog, yeah, 50 years ago.

    • haha, I love it man, that’s awesome. Just goes to show serious exercise equipment never goes out of style. thanks for sharing.

    • Awesome. My older brother let me train on his back in the 70s. I still remember the poster it came with, trying to smile like the model while killing myself. In 4th grade beat everyone in my class arm-wresting except the teacher. Sister Ann wasn’t gonna lose to any 4th grader!

  2. Plus there are all sorts of cardio exercises that you can develop with no compression what so ever. I have a damaged lung and this addition has improved my life no end. I use it from squat and carry through to overhead as if lifting weights also as if paddling a kayak and many many other variations. I too have had mine actually have 3 since the 1970’s. One of the best bits of equipment ever.

    • glad to hear it. yeah it’s pretty amazing that such a simple piece of equipment can be so effective.

  3. I’ve used Bullworker -off and on since1972.
    Back in the day Bullworker was in Middlesex,New Jersey.An honest company,everyone could own one.
    I’ve bought several steel bows since hey started.
    It seems steel bow goes up about $50.00a year.
    It nauseated me to realize it’s all about corporate money now.
    Steel bow u stink
    You will never be like the original Bullworker2

  4. Much prefer the Bullworker over the Isokinator. It’s much more versatile. However, both are seriously expensive at this time. So many people now training at home. I’d say save your money and just use one of the many training guides that are out there. Much cheaper and just as effective with some effort and the right frame of mind. Thanks.

  5. Been using it occasionally since the mid 1970s. Recently moved to Canada and am thinking of buying the 20” bow…

  6. I bought the steelbow a little over a month ago, and I love it! I had the original back in 1976, and it was the best way to get ripped without overtraining. Lost it along the way, and forgot about it as I was doing bodyweight and running for years. Recently got interested in tendon strength, and thinking they were out of business as they’re not exactly all over the internet, I searched for a used one and found they’re still around.
    I’ve remained very active, but have mostly been doing a LOT of walking, so my upper body had suffered. Gained ten pounds of muscle so far. After you get used to it, it’s awesome for the entire body. It actually feels like cheating, as the routine is so quickly finished and you’re not exhausted afterwards. However, that’s very deceptive, and it’s easy to overtrain your CNS. But, that will adapt as well. I’m currently doing one set of many of the example exercises, plus a few of my own. Just extended the compression to 15 seconds at about half max force. Has already resolved all the aches and pains I’ve accumulated over the past 61 years of being a very active person. Redneck, paratrooper, skydiver, long distance runner, etc. My body is also in much better alignment now. Gains are far better than from any other type of exercise I’ve ever done, and I actually look forward to my workout now. The only downside is the plethora of conflicting data on isometric exercises. I’m just going for a 20 second compression at half force. Not doing the isotonic except for the abs.

    • That’s great to hear man, keep up the good work! Thanks for sharing and glad you enjoy using your Steel Bow.

  7. I still have my original bullworker 2, purchased somewhere between 1976/78. I used it on a regular basis with great effect when I was younger. Now at 61 years of age and suffering mild to medium cold many exercises prove a little bit too much for me. So I have just dug it back out on Wednesday of this week and restarted using it. Feeling the effects straight away. Hopefully in a few months I may regain some shape. Obviously not expecting to have the shape I did 30 yrs ago, but a little bit of it would be nice.

    • Ha, that’s awesome man, I love hearing these stories about the Steel Bow. It’s amazing how this thing lasts over the years. Glad to hear you’re getting back on it and I hope it helps get you in shape with the COPD (I too have troubles with the auto-correct sometimes). Take care and thanks for reading!

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