Why are deadlifts important? No, really, why? Is it because they are one of the big three compound movements? Or, could it be because they help you build a strong founda...
Benefits of a Hex Bar – The Cure to a Common Problem
Hex bars may look strange and bulky, but the benefits of a hex bar will far outweigh any doubts you might have.
Hex bars are modified barbells, with open hexagonal centers where you stand in the middle, housing handles on each side.
They allow you to do deadlifts and squats, exercises you may not be able to do otherwise, due to the ergonomics of a standard barbell or different types of injuries.
Hex bars let people with back problems perform squats without putting strain on the back and shoulders.
Because hex bar squats use the same motion as standard barbell squats, they activate the same muscle groups.
The hex bar’s design forces you to step inside it rather than behind it.
This significantly reduces the amount of sheer force on the spine when performing certain movements.
Our highly-rated Dark Iron Fitness Genuine Leather Weightlifting Belt can also help reduce pain and protect your spine.
Research in The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, on the biomechanics of the hex bar deadlift versus the straight bar deadlift, explains the difference in force.
They found that not only was the trap bar deadlift safer to use than the straight bar version, it was also a more effective exercise for building maximum power.
According to the authors, greater levels of peak force, velocity, and power were produced with the hex bar compared to the straight bar.
Now, let’s delve into the world of the hex bar and see why it is so amazing.
Related: The Trap Bar Deadlift
Benefits of a Hex Bar
The Basics — An Overview of the Benefits of a Hex Bar
The hex deadlift allows you to lift more weight, over a greater distance, faster.
The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research explained that the peak power values measured with the trap bar deadlift were similar to Olympic weightlifting exercises like the power clean.
This information is critical for coaches looking for a highly beneficial, low-cost (in both time and potential for injury) exercise for increasing maximum power.
Unlike standard barbell squats, hex bars place the distribution of weight at hip-level.
This results in:
- less stress on the back,
- reduced spinal compression,
- better form by maintaining a straight back throughout the exercise
- may reduce the risk of injury.
“Hex bar squats are great for those with back and joint issues,” says certified personal trainer Peter Jackson.
The hex bar may also enable athletes to lift more weight due to its focus on stability and balance, according to strength coach Paul Gagne in a 2004 issue of Bigger, Faster, Stronger.
Benefits of a Hex Bar — Breakdown of Muscles Used
Lower Body Muscles
Squats have a well-earned reputation as a lower-body building exercise, and hex bar squats are no exception.
While virtually any type of squat focuses on the thighs, Olympic weightlifting coach Charles Poliquin says that the hex bar puts an even greater emphasis on the quadriceps.
Hex bar squats also engage the gluteus maximus and minimus, adductor magnus thigh muscles and soleus calf muscles.
They help other muscles complete a movement.
The hamstrings and calves serve as stabilizers, or muscles that help your body maintain a certain posture.
Related: Trap Bar Deadlift vs. Squats
When squatting is done properly, your core muscles are engaged throughout the movement.
Hex bar squats target these muscle groups due to the even force as you go down.
The abdominal muscles, for that desired “six-pack” – and the transverse abdominis, or the “deep abs” that lie under the rectus abdominis can all be built with the help of a hex bar.
Squats work the erector spinae, the back muscles that run from the top of the neck to the tailbone, as a stabilizer.
Likewise, standard squats and hex bar squats engage the obliques.
The hex bar overhead squat, an Olympic-style exercise for experienced lifters, encourages hip flexibility.
Related: Muscles Worked in a Hex Bar Squat
Benefits of a Hex Bar for the Injured
Works the Posterior Chain
Trap bar deadlifts are a wonderful way to build the strength and integrity of the posterior chain: the group of muscles that sit on the back of our bodies.
This includes the calves, hamstrings, glutes, and spinal erectors.
By focusing on these muscles, we can limit our risk of developing lower back pain or lessening preexisting pain.
These muscles also help us improve our jumping, bounding, sprinting, and the ability to move those heavy weights around at the gym.
Related: Why are Deadlifts so Important?
Lifting More Weight
Even though the range of motion is slightly shorter when performing a hex bar deadlift, due to the bar height, you can still lift more weight than with the traditional deadlift.
The amount of weight pulled — and its impact on muscle development — is known as “mechanical tension.”
Mechanical tension is one of the three key factors that contribute to muscle growth.
Increasing this tension means our capacity to build muscle mass will improve.
But, don’t attempt to overload the hex bar without some extra support.
Our Dark Iron Fitness leather weightlifting belt will provide the correct support and an awesome aesthetic.
Protecting yourself during a workout, even if it’s structured to prevent injuries, is always a must!
Easier on the Joints
A huge advantage of the hex bar is the neutral grip (palms facing in towards each other).
This is easier on the joints and provides a stronger grip than a double-overhand pronated grip with a straight bar.
Furthermore, many people who use a hex bar will often state the position feels more natural.
A hex bar deadlift is similar to how you would move in order to pick up two bags of groceries on the side of you.
Whereas a conventional deadlift would mean you grab those two bags and hold them in front of you.
Clearly, the first option is optimal and more comfortable.
Great for Push-Ups, Even with Wrist Issues
Another exercise that the hex bar can be used for is push-ups.
Performing a push-up with the hex bar has the advantage of allowing the athlete to work the arms, chest, and shoulders with a greater range of motion.
“People often avoid doing basic push-ups on the hands because of the stress it places on the wrist,” says Gagné.
“Women especially complain about wrist pain and compression of the hand, but they don’t have this problem with the hex bar and they get better results.”
Related: Reasons to Own a Hex Bar
Benefits of a Hex Bar for Specific Lifters
Great for Beginners
For most people, getting into a good deadlift position with a straight bar is a huge challenge, and requires coaching.
This is when the hex bars’ benefits are very obvious.
Its configuration leads to a more upright torso position, allowing you to “sit” into the movement.
This has fewer technicalities than a traditional straight bar deadlift.
It also allows the knees to move forward more and the hips to sit lower than normal; the bar won’t scrape your shins during the movement.
Works Even for those who Can’t Squat
“Because the bar is running through the body, the load stays center and requires less of a posterior load on the hamstrings and lower back,” says Gregg Bertsch, NASM Performance Enhancement Specialist.
And since the weight isn’t resting on your shoulders, you’re less likely to round your back and risk a serious back strain.
“I can have an athlete who has limited ankle and hip-mobility [hex] bar deadlift almost immediately,” Bertsch says, “but with an injury, you simply can’t back-squat like that.”
Related: Correct Posture for Squats
Hex Bars Work Especially Well for Tall Athletes
Another valuable benefit of the hex bar is that it is suited for taller athletes, says Canadian strength coach, Paul Gagné.
“When you’re working with tall athletes you really have to be careful about overloading the spine, the hex bar places less compressive forces on the spine, which enables me to train these athletes with a higher volume of training than they could handle if they only performed squats.”
If you happen to be on the taller side, with or without back pain, hex bar squats and deadlifts may be tailored to you.
Give them a shot and see if you feel the benefits of less strain and better range.
Conclusion for Benefits of a Hex Bar
The hex bar has long been used to strength-train professional athletes safely and effectively.
It has become increasingly popular with beginners, gym rats, and people trying to work around an injury.
It is a great alternative for those who are looking for options to the traditional squats and deadlifts — or just trying to lift more weight.
Get all the support you need with our highly-rated Dark Iron Fitness Genuine Leather Weightlifting Belt.
Using a weightlifting belt in conjunction with a hex bar can create outstanding results.
You will, in turn, lift heavier, lift more frequently and of course, far more safely.
Test a hex bar at the gym or at an equipment store — I’m sure it’ll be just right.