By Austin Letorney Generation Iron
Hex bars can provide a great alternative to deadlifts while also giving you the benefits of a variety of exercises.
Hex bars, also know as trap bars, are underutilized tools in the gym and are great for a host of exercises, most commonly to replace the traditional barbell deadlift. Able to increase size and strength, this is awesome for providing functional support for full body movement while also working to increase support so you stay injury free. While gyms remain closed or at limited capacity, this is the perfect piece of exercise equipment to keep in your home gym. Its versatility is just an added bonus to the benefits of this bar.
The benefits of a hex bar and the various workouts to try are something to really consider when looking for new equipment to add to your home gym. Able to be used with or without a rack, this bar can provide for a more natural feel with enhanced grip for muscle building and support in all movements. Let’s dive into hex bars and why you should consider putting this into your workout routine, even if only for select exercises.
What Is A Hex Bar?
This bar is a hexagonal shape and can be used for both upper and lower body lifts. The shape of this bar allows you to stand in the center, as opposed to behind like a traditional barbell, so you can increase your load without sacrificing your body. Where the handles are placed allow for better grip and more muscle engagement for a more effective lift. The position also makes a hex bar perfect for lifting or walking exercises.
What To Look For In A Hex Bar?
Like all supplements and exercise equipment, there are certain features to look for in a high quality and effective hex bar. They include:
- Knurled handles: These handles make sure your grip is better and prevent slipping and poor form. With a knurled handle, you can be sure you are more sturdy than a traditional barbell.
- Coating: Good quality coating ensures durability and longevity for whatever your lifts bring with a hex bar. Anything from anti-rust, sweat, or scratch will do.
- Plate size: Some hex bars only fit Olympic plates so for you training goals, make sure you find one that is conducive to all plate sizes.
- Price and quality: While this may go without saying, make sure to get a good quality bar at a decent price. Sometimes paying more up front will pay off in the long run.
Benefits Of A Hex Bar
Reduce Back Pain & Stress
A traditional deadlift with a barbell tends to cause back pain and stress that you just don’t need. A hex bar works to put your hips in the middle of the bar so as you lift, your center of gravity remains in the middle, thus putting less stress on your back. This will promote a stronger physique with a healthier back and added support.
Increase Strength & Size (Especially With Deadlifts)
With less load taken on your low back and hips in a negative way, you will load more weight onto a hex bar and see serious growth with it. The ability to add more weight will not only aid in that much desired muscle growth but will also engage smaller muscles and work to enhance balance. With the deadlift especially you will start to see bigger and faster gains (1).
Promote Grip Strength
The way this bar is set up, your grip will be enhanced which is exactly what you want. With knurled grips, you eliminate slippage from sweat and moisture to keep your lifts more safe and effective without sacrificing form. As a result of better form, you can add on that weight to see more muscle growth (2).
Great For Beginners & Alternative Exercises
The hex bar is the perfect tool to really develop strength and form for beginners before moving over to a traditional barbell. Building up better support and engaging your hips as best you can early on will only pay off once you move over to heavy weights and less support (3).
Hex Bar Exercise Variations
Bent Over Row
An effective back exercise, using a hex bar can work your muscles symmetrically so no muscle imbalances occur. Being closer to the center of gravity will ensure less wrist and elbow stress to pump out more reps and provide great benefits to this superior upper body movement.
Perfect for building explosive power, the jump squat with a hex bar allows you to safely pack on weight while standing comfortably in the center of the bar. An equal distribution of weight is exactly what you need out of this exercise for optimal effectiveness.
Eliminate dumbbell shrugs with the hex bar and really work that core stability by adding more weight. This will also provide more comfort with heavier shrugs as opposed to using dumbbells.
Farmers walks with a hex bar will see huge growth by allowing serious weight and easy versatility as you stand inside the bar. Free moving inside with great potential for serious grip enhancement, farmers walks are a great functional exercise only enhanced by a hex bar.
Featured Hex Bar
American Barbell Hex Bar
American Barbell Hex Bar is a great bar for switching up your traditional deadlift and allowing for many variations of other exercises. By working to reduce stress on your lower back, you engage different muscle groups from this effective and high quality workout tool. While you don’t need a rack, this bar is fully rackable and fits all Olympic plates. This hex bar is 85’’ long with a 16’’ loadable sleeve and weighs 40 lbs. The loadable sleeve length is 16’’ and the knurled handles are great for enhancing grip.
Hex bars are great workout tools to see huge growth and gains while aiding in serious support for full body functionality. Offering versatility in your movements and enhanced grip strength, a hex bar is perfect for advancing your training and performance. Knowing what to look for can be a real benefit to you in finding the right bar and these alternative exercises will help advance your home workouts to new heights. Check out different hex bars and see which one can work best for you.
*Images courtesy of American Barbell and Envato
- Lockie, Robert G.; Lazar, Adrina (2017). “Exercise Technique: Applying the Hexagonal Bar to Strength and Power Training”. (source)
- Lee, Julia-Ann; Sechachalam, Sreedharan (2016). “The Effect of Wrist Position on Grip Endurance and Grip Strength”. (source)
- Camara, Kevin D.; Dunnick, Dustin D.; Brown, Lee E.; Coburn, Jared W. (2016). “An Examination Of Muscle Activation And Power Characteristics While Performing The Deadlift Exercise With Straight And Hexagonal Barbells”. (source)