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Hex Bar: One Great Training Tool

Increase your deadlift by 45 pounds with this bar!

Hex Bar: One Great Training Tool

Timing is everything.

Just the other day one of the members of jimstoppani.com asked me in the Q&A section about the difference between doing deadlifts with a straight bar and a hex bar. It happened to be right around the same time when a new study was coming out from the UK comparing the deadlift using a hex bar to a standard barbell. Now I can answer his question not just with my own breakdown of the hex bar deadlift, but with answers that recent research has uncovered.

For those of you who don't know what a hex bar is, it's a hexagon-shaped bar that you actually stand in the middle of while lifting it.

Some bodybuilders refer to it as a trap bar because it makes shrugs easier to do. It also makes deadlifts easier to do, as a recent study from Robert Gordon University found. The UK researchers did a biomechanical analysis on male powerlifters when they performed the deadlift with the hex bar and compared it to when they did a deadlift using a standard barbell. They also tested the powerlifters one rep max on the deadlift with the hex bar and the standard barbell.

They reported in a 2011 issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research that the powerlifters were able to deadlift about 45 pounds more using the hex bar than they could with a straight bar.

This is likely due to the fact that the hex bar keeps the weight closer to the body. As the researchers discovered, this allowed them to use more of their quadriceps to lift the bar up and less hamstrings, glutes and lower back. They also reported that using the hex bar places much less stress on the lower back and hips.

Jim's Take-Home Message

If you train at home, consider getting yourself a hex bar. This study definitely encouraged me to do so. If you train at a gym hopefully your gym has one in the corner somewhere. If not, hopefully this study will encourage your gym owner or manager to order one. After all, the benefits of this specialized bar are numerous. For starters, it allows you to train the quads in a different manner. This is great for those who have problems with squats but want to do free-weight multijoint exercises to build the quads. Using the hex bar can really bring up lagging quads.

It also means that doing deads with the hex bar is a GREAT alternative for those with back problems. As many of you know, I have a piece of vertebra missing in my lumbar spine. And as much as I love to deadlifts with a straight bar, it often aggravates my back. The hex bar makes a world of difference!

If you're looking for a place to order a hex bar, check out www.powersystems.com

Reference:

Swinton, P. A. A Biomechanical Analysis of straight and hexagonal barbell deadlifts using submaximal loads. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research S., et al. a comparison of free weight squat to Smith machine squat using electromyography. 25(7):2000-2009, 2011.


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