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Deadlift vs hex bar [Article]

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Feb 5, 2019 9:30:00 AM

deadlift vs hex bar

Deadlift vs hex bar


Athletes will benefit from the lower injury risk using a hex bar instead of the barbell. Weightlifters and powerlifters might want to use the tool that is more relevant to their sport unless their lower back needs a rest. 

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What are your goals 


Why do you compare the barbell deadlift and the hex bar deadlift? Do you have problems with your lower back? Do you think the barbell deadlift is not secure enough? Do you want to pack on some muscle and don’t know where to start? Whatever brought you here it is important that you know why you are training. The clearer your goals the more likely it is that you will achieve them. Fussy goals get you fussy results. I observe three main trends in fitness: 


  • Looks 
  • Performance 
  • Health 


If you are all about looks you are in for a hard time. The perfect physiques you see on television and in the magazines do not form overnight. You have to be disciplined. Expect to be hungry, angry and tired along the way. The main driver to achieve this goal is a clean diet. Exercising plays a secondary role to it. Cardio will usually be a better choice than strength training to get that six pack. Your choices will not always be healthy or help performance on the pitch. As long as you can pull off that T-shirt and crack a perfect smile that is ok with you. 


The second group mainly cares about performance. When you belong to this bracket you mainly care about athletic achievements. The main driver for your success will be the intensity at which you train. Diet becomes a fuel for your ambitions. It is it the main focus of everything you do. As you push yourself to the limit and beyond on regular basis injuries occur. You know how to deal with them without having a major meltdown. The choices you make are not always healthy and pretty. That does not matter when you are smiling down on the competition at the end of the day. 


The last group is mainly interested in health. For you, it is all about balance. Choosing the middle path to fulfillment and bliss. You will try different diets just to see what they are like. You avoid the stress of always looking pretty or having to compete.  You might never be the greatest of all time or Miss Universe. The good thing is you don’t care that much. 


As you are comparing barbell deadlifts and hex bar deadlifts you are most likely not n the looks or performance group. Take care to prioritize. It will make your training more effective. 


The barbell deadlift 


The barbell deadlift is one of the most iconic movements you can do in the gym. You will find it in programs like Wendler 531, Stronglifts 5x5 and other strength programs. 


The deadlift is so popular because it is a full body exercise. You get a lot out of it for every repetition you do. 


The deadlift starts with the barbell on the ground. Walk up to it and place your midfeet under the bar. Grip the bar with both hands and get tight. Build maximum tension before you initiate the pull. The pull is initiated by pushing your feet and into the ground. Flex your glutes and straighten your hips until lockout. There is more to it than this so check out the material at the end of the post for more detail. 


The biggest advantages of the barbell deadlift are its heavy load and low technical challenge. Even though the deadlift is hard to master it is easy to start with. It will also be the lift that you can lift the most with the least amount of training.


The biggest disadvantages of the deadlift are that you can not do it for high repetitions and that it can hurt your lower back. My biggest back injury came from deadlifting. I overdid it and it put me back a year in training. The barbell deadlift is also not ideal for hypertrophy programs which ask for many repetitions. If you still want to pull for high reps try the sumo stance instead of the conventional. 


The hex bar deadlift 


The hex bar deadlift is also known as the trap bar deadlift. It is called hex as the frame of this special bar is formed in a hexagon. 


To perform the hex bar deadlift you step inside of the frame. Grip the bar at the handles on both sides. Get tight and build maximum tension. Initiate the pull by pushing your legs into the ground and squeezing your glutes. Pull the bar up to hip height and set it down. 


The biggest advantages of the hex bar deadlift are that it puts less strain on your lower back and that the bar has no drift during the movement. This makes it a good option for beginners or experienced lifters with overworked lower backs. 


The biggest disadvantages of the hex bar deadlift are that you have to keep a single purpose bar in your gym and that all competitions are done with barbells. There are almost no powerlifting, weightlifting or strongman competitions in which the trap bar deadlift is performed. For this accessory, the movement takes up a lot of space in the gym. Especially when you have multiple hex bars to store. 


Should you do barbell or hex bar deadlifts


Beginners can start out with the hex bar deadlift and then graduate to the barbell deadlift. Especially when you have limited hip and lower back mobility this is a good option. 


Experienced lifters can use the hex bar deadlift to give their lower backs a rest. If you want to keep the volume high and feel fatigue in your lower back switch to trap bar for your high repetition work. 


Ultimately if you want to train safer and do not need any carryover to the barbell the hex bar is a good option long term. 


Further reading 



Topics: Lift stronger, Deadlift, Fitness, Strength