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Hex Bar VS Barbell Deadlift

March 14, 2019

Although they’re both deadlift variations, there are very important differences between the hex bar and conventional barbell deadlifts.

Let’s start with the two biggest differences. 

1. Knee angle at lift-off

  • Greater knee flexion makes the hex bar deadlift look a little bit more like a squat and it allows for greater quadricep recruitment off the floor (which is why some people refer to it as a hybrid between a deadlift and a squat). 

2. Torso angle at lift-off

  • The smaller knee angle during hex bar deadlifts also creates a more upright torso and consequently a shorter moment arm at the hip. (A moment arm is simply the length between a joint axis and the line of force acting on that joint.)

The shorter moment arm explains why most people can lift more weight with a hex bar than with a barbell.

deadlift with hex bar depicting longer moment arm at knee, lifter with barbell depicting longer moment arm at hip

So which one is better? 

Well, that really depends.

  • Tall lifters/lifters with really long legs seem to do better with a hex bar - when a tall person reaches down to grab the barbell, his knees are waaaaaaay in front of the bar.
  • Competitive powerlifters need to train with a barbell (at least the majority of the time)
  • Hex bars are great for athletes in sports other than barbell sports (volleyball players, baseball players, etc) 
  • Lifters wanting to focus on increasing hamstring/glute strength will get more benefit from barbell deadlifts
  • Hex bars are a great introduction to deadlifts for novices who are brand new to strength training
  • Lifters with back issues/previous back injuries are great candidates for hex bar

Both are valuable training tools, and one isn’t better than the other!

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