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The Hex Bar

More than just a novel bar

The Hex Bar

The hex bar, also known as a trap bar or shrug bar, is a strength-training tool that is highly underappreciated, underused and just plain misunderstood.

That's why so few gyms actually carry them. It's really too bad that the majority of gym owners don't realize that the hex bar is far more than just a unique bar to clutter up the gym. It's a bar with proven benefits shown in the lab and the gym.

Research on hex bar deadlifts shows that they allow you to lift about 10% more weight than when using a standard barbell.

If you think that's not a big difference, then you're not factoring in the fact that you typically deadlift several hundred pounds. So it's about 10 pounds for every hundred pounds that you can deadlift. In the actual study done in the UK, it was an average increase of about 45 pounds (or 20 kgs)! This was due to the fact that the weight stays closer to your body, allowing you to use more quads. And it puts less stress on the lower back. To read more on this study in my Research Update article, click on the link below:

https://www.jimstoppani.com/home/articles/training-research-update-august-7-2011

And hex bar shrugs are a great way to work the traps differently than with a barbell or with dumbbells.

This is due to a number of reasons, such as the fact that you use a neutral grip and your arms are spaced wider apart. While it is true that you use a neutral grip with the dumbbell shrug and you can use a wide grip with barbell shrugs, the hex bar shrug combines the neutral grip and wide hand spacing that you can't mimic with anything else.

But the difference that I like best about hex bar shrugs and deadlifts is the fact that the bar never touches the body.

What is so special about that? In my opinion it's one of the more critical reasons to use the hex bar from time to time. When you stand in the center of the hex bar and either deadlift or shrug, the weight is free-floating and is never dragged up against your body. I'll get to the benefits of this in a minute.

Think about when you deadlift with a barbell.

You actually want the bar to be in contact with your legs, at least your thighs in the late stages of the lift. This keeps you from putting too much stress on the back and allows you to keep your center of gravity back more, which can help you lift more weight. And when you shrug with a barbell, it also drags up against your thighs. In fact, this can get uncomfortable for us males at the top of the movement, if you know what I mean. Even when you shrug with dumbbells, the dumbbells drag up the sides or the front of your thighs, depending on how you do dumbbell shrugs. There is nothing wrong with this. In fact, it's almost impossible to avoid this as it is simple physics and biomechanics.

All that being said, the design of the hex bar keeps the weight centered so that the bar does not touch any part of your body, except where your hands grip the handles.

So the weight literally is free-floating the entire time. This provides a very unique feel to the exercise for both shrugs and deadlifts. You will notice this the first time you use the bar. It's actually a bit difficult to control because it is free-floating and you are forced to control any possible swaying. That means that you're using more of your core muscles and shoulder stabilizer muscles to stabilize the bar.

The unique nature of the hex bar also means that you are hitting the muscles from a different angle and therefore utilizing different muscle fibers than when you do the standard versions of the deadlift and shrug.

This can help with greater muscle growth and strength gains. For the shrug in particular, you will notice that you can't cheat the weight up as easily and it really forces you to focus more on the traps. And with the wide, neutral grip and free-floating nature of the hex bar, doing hex bar shrugs will really target new muscle fibers in your traps that you likely haven't been hitting.

So if your gym happens to have a hex bar collecting dust in the corner, dust it off drag it out, and start using it.

You'll be pleasantly surprised, as will the other gym members who follow your lead. And if your gym doesn't have one, make your argument to the manager as to why they should consider providing one for the members. Use the info in this article and my Research Update article on hex bar deads as your support. Or show them this article: but you may want to block out this part where I am telling you to argue your case for them to buy one.

If you're considering buying a hex bar for your home gym, the one I am using in the photos and videos on my site is a Watson Gym Equipment dual grip shrug bar.

Click on the link below for the Watson site:

http://watsongym.co.uk/





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