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What do I give up w/ hex bar for dead lifts?

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  • What do I give up w/ hex bar for dead lifts?

    Hi all, 54 years old. Paleo for four months- have dropped 40 pounds and started lifting, doing strong-lifts 5x5 to start. I'm at 195 currently on deads and seem to freak out on the first lift of every set, next lifts are ok but I think I'm afraid of hurting my back and get all hesitant. I picked up a cheap hex bar and it is much more comfortable for me. My question is for a guy like me who is never going to compete or pose for anyone ;-) who just wants to get in shape and gain strength am I really losing much by utilizing the hex bar over the barbell for deads? On the serious lifting forums similar questions seem to be answered with, "check your form, quit being a wimp, and do it right!".

  • #2
    A few things:
    1. Deload on your barbell deadlifts and work your form. Drop down as low as you need to go so that you can work form without worrying about the weight.
    2. Continue to use the hex bar for your heavy weight deadlifts.
    3. Find other exercises to continue to build your lower back.

    From what I can tell, people seem to think that hex bar deads are more similar to a squat in mechanics. This means that the activation in your lumbar won't be as high with hex deads as with a straight bar.
    This article agrees, and sells that as a benefit: T NATION | The Trap Bar Deadlift

    From that article:
    Should you abandon the straight bar deadlift altogether?
    It depends on the goal. If you're concerned about the risk of lower back injury, the trap bar is definitely the safer choice. However, if you're trying to achieve maximum back extensor and hamstring recruitment, then the straight bar is the better option.

    Keep in mind that the hamstring's primary role will always be to bend your knee and extend your hip when you're bent forward. While this does occur during the trap bar deadlift, it's to a lesser degree than during the straight bar version, which keeps most of the load on the hip joint, rather than the knee and ankle joints.
    and finally:
    The important thing to remember is that if you're going to truly "replace" the traditional deadlift, plan on adding a bunch of other hip-dominant exercises like glute/ham raises, kettlebell swings, hip thrusts, etc., to your program.
    All this research is making me want to try it out now, actually.


    • #3
      If you're squatting regularly a la SS, the regular deadlift is your best bet. Is this just a confidence issue? It's a great idea to film yourself and post it on the SS forum for those guys to nitpick. Swallow yer ego beforehand!!:>
      If you are new to the PB - please ignore ALL of this stuff, until you've read the book, or at least and this (personal fave):


      • #4
        Disagree. The hex bar is fantastic for people who don't have a coach or personal trainer to help them master the technical aspects of a standard deadlift.


        • #5
          Thanks for the input, and jayfreakshow for the T-Nation article. I do think it is primarily a confidence problem. I just hesitate on the first pull, and get messed up, any after that are fine. I've watched a ton of vids, set up properly, have my ex college rugby player son (with lots of weight room time and training) observe, and just seem to choke on the initial lift. I don't have the same problem with the hex bar. I think I'll warm up with the regular bar and and two 45 lb plates and then lift heavy (well heavy for me!) with the hex bar until I gain confidence. I do have some mobility issues, I spent 20 plus years hunched over a workbench doing woodcarving for a living, did strange things to me, tons of repetitive motion problems. To squat I had to purchase a Rogue safety squat bar, just COULD NOT get under the bar without major problems and discomfort (really painful!). I guess I'll contine to stretch, foam roll, and work on mobility also. Thanks all!
          Seems like I'm complaining but I have to say I am loving lifting and getting stronger again.


          • #6
            Deadlifting with the hex bar is mechanically more like a squat than a deadlift. Supporting the weight in your grip instead of on your back is harder than squatting but keeping the weight centered is easier since the center of gravity is a lot closer to your feet.

            If you don't want to dead lift the heaviest sets, that's fine, lots of strong people don't deadlift at all. Just don't deadlift using the hex bar and think you are deadlifting. The benefit to the lower back is a huge part of the deadlift movement and that emphasis is much lower with the hex bar. It's a different movement.
            Last edited by dgreenwood; 09-22-2012, 09:03 PM.


            • #7
              I wouldn't worry about it too much. Your eating paelo... lifting weights. You're already ahead of probably 95% of the people on the planet. If you feel more comfortable using a hex bar... then use it.

              You could hire a trainer to work with you for a few sessions to perfect your standard deadlift...


              • #8
                Originally posted by arthurb999 View Post
                I wouldn't worry about it too much. Your eating paelo... lifting weights. You're already ahead of probably 95% of the people on the planet. If you feel more comfortable using a hex bar... then use it.
                This. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
                The Champagne of Beards


                • #9
                  Arthurb and RichM, thanks for the sage advice. I'm feeling better than I have in years and am absolutely loving lifting, for now that IS good, no need to be perfect just need to keep going in the right direction. Thanks all!


                  • #10
                    Hi, I'm 64 and have been doing 5x5 dead lifts with regular olympic bar for about 8 months. As the weight increased I had the same problem on first set--but it got easier, less stressful on succeeding sets.

                    On line search (I forget where I found it) led to the idea of a pyramid set. So now (last Saturday) my dead lift set is:
                    155#x5, 175#x4, 195#x3, 215#x2, 235#x1. This week I felt good and did one more lift of 255#.

                    Starting with a lighter weight seems to warm me up and remind me to concentrate on form. I know I can lift heavier (have done 300# with the trap (hex) bar) but I'm new to dead lifting and am willing to take my time increasing the weight.

                    I did get some funny looks as I went around the gym collecting a pile of 10# plates for the set.
                    Last edited by Rich Capalbo; 09-24-2012, 07:44 AM.


                    • #11
                      Are you warming up? Your comments seem to indicate that you aren't. Here's a sample warmup for the DL at 195 lbs working weight:
                      95x5x2 (weightxrepsxsets)
                      195x5 (working set)

                      If you do this, your muscles will be warm, you will have confidence in your form, and that first rep at working weight will be fine. Nothing builds a strong back like the barbell DL. I highly recommend getting Mark Rippetoe's book "Starting Strength" to learn the proper form. I also started with Stronglifts 5x5, but once I got the SS Book things got much clearer for me.


                      • #12
                        Oh, I just saw Rich's post, telling the same thing. Do your warm up sets! (and Rich is older that me. I'm only 61.)


                        • #13
                          Hi, Gene,

                          Maybe we need a "creaky old guy" group.


                          • #14
                            what do you give up? Working the lower back as hard.

                            The question is, does that matter to you? You're still hitting the lower back a little.

                            I do sumo deads (I'm a hockey goalie and care more about my hip adductors than my lower back). I'm definitely giving something up. You can target the lower back with other exercises like good mornings.

                            Or, don't sweat it too much.