Hex bar deadlift vs barbell deadlift

The deadlift is probably the best exercise you can do. It is a full body exercise that works several muscle groups in your upper and lower body.

It is a great posterior chain exercise with you engaging nearly every muscle in your body.

Deadlifts work your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves primarily. Your hip and back extensors as well as your core muscles and lats also get some attention.

Hex bar deadlift

The hex bar deadlift, also known as the trap bar deadlift, is a variation to conventional barbell deadlifts.

hex bar dealift

The hex bar allow you to take the stress off of your lower back and put it onto your legs. In fact, the hex bar deadlift acts is a hybrid between a traditional back squat and deadlift, giving you the best of both worlds.

The hex bar is so-named because of the hexagonal-shaped bar. You stand in the middle of the hexagon and hold the handles on each side of you. The rest of the motion is similar to the standard deadlift.

Benefits of hex bar deadlift

The benefits of the hex bar and barbell deadlifts are very similar in that they work nearly every muscle in the body. However, there are a few key differences here:

Easy to lift with good form.

The neutral grip and the design that places the center of gravity in line with your feet instead of in front of your body puts you in a better position to lift with proper form and makes it easier for you to keep a neutral spine.

You can lift heavier loads with a trap bar

The weight is evenly dispersed by the bar and you standing in the middle of it versus with the barbell and the weight is respectively in front of you.

Less pressure on your low back

The design of the hex bar changes how the weight is loaded during the lift.

How to perform hex bar deadlifts

  1. `Load the trap bar with the desired weight.
  2. Stand in the middle of the trap bar so that your legs are equal distance from the handles.
  3. Bend down to grab the handles. You should grab the handle so that your hands are in line with your feet.
  4. Sit your butt back until your shoulders are directly over your feet. Be sure to keep a tight back and load the legs.
  5. Keep your shins vertical to hit the muscles in a more similar way to the barbell deadlift. This will require more hip flexion and more hamstring
  6. Stand up with the load similarly to the barbell. Be sure to “tighten” your body before standing up.
  7. Lower your body remembering to add hip flexion and control the weight on the way down.

Barbell deadlift

When people hear “deadlift,” they will automatically think of traditional barbell deadlifts. You stand on a platform with the weight on the bar in front of you, you bend to pick it up and slowly lower it up and down with control.

woman holding barbell for barbell deadlift
woman in red shirt doing barbell dealifts
woman in motion doing barbell deadlift

You will find that deadlifts will be a staple in your lower body workouts because of it works your entire body. It allows you to work the large muscle groups in your body and posterior chain.

Benefits of traditional barbell deadlifts

Works the entire body

Deadlifts use a large group of muscles. Few other exercises use as much as the deadlift does including traps, back, hip flexors, glutes and calves.

Enhances functional strength

You use the deadlift motion every day without thinking about it. You use the movement when bending down to pick up and move objects off the floor, picking up your kids and just picking up a piece of paper off the floor.

How to perform traditional deadlift

  • Place a barbell in front of you on the floor
  • Step close to the barbell with it in front of you. Your feet are hip-width apart
  • With your hands about shoulder width apart, just outside your feet, hinge your hips, bend your knees and grab the barbell with both bands in an overhand grip
  • Keeping your back straight and your core tight, lift the bar off the ground and pull it up
  • Once the bar reaches knee height, thrust your hips forward to a standing position. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the lift.
  • Reverse the movement and return to the starting position

You can use a mixed grip with one hand over and the other under if you have a weaker grip. You also can use deadlift straps to help you with your grip strength.

Deadlift variations

RDL deadlift

woman doing conventional deadlift exercise

Romanian deadlifts (RDLs) put a greater emphasis on the hamstrings and glutes. RDLs are not stiff-leg deadlifts. You want to maintain a slight bend in your knees and then hinge at the hips while maintaining a flat back.

Keep your back straight and lower the bar just past your knees. Use your legs to pull the bar back up.

Sumo deadlift (barbell)

sumo vs conventional deadlift square

Sumo deadlifts allow you to maintain a more upright torso and put more stress on the glutes and quads. You stand with your feet wider the hip width and your ties angled out so your shins are flush against the bar. When holding the bar your hands also are inside your hips.

Stiff leg deadlift

The stiff leg deadlift (also known as straight leg deadlift) is similar to traditional deadlifts but you raise the bar without bending your knees.

Deficit deadlifts

Stand on weight plates to perform this variation. This variation allows for a greater range of motion over traditional deadlifts.


How much does the hex bar weigh?

The average hex bar weighs 45 pounds. If it has raised handles, it can typically weigh 50-55 pounds.

How much does a squat bar weigh?

The standard squat bar weighs 45 pounds. If your gym has an Olympic bar, it also weighs 45 pounds.

Is the hex bar deadlift better than the traditional barbell deadlift?

Both deadlifts are good for muscle growth and increasing strength. Pick the one that will most meet your needs and any aching muscles.

How do I get stronger in my deadlifts?

Add a couple of these deadlift assistance exercises into your fitness routine.

Wrap up

Deadlifts should be a part of everyone’s lower body routine regularly. You can do the conventional deadlift or one of the many deadlift variations. You can keep mixing up your lower body days with the different types of deadlifts that can be done regardless of your fitness level.

The hex bar variation is a better option if you are having any lower back pain and looking for less strain on your lower back.

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