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.
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