Deadlifts and squats are lower body exercises and staple movements in every gym. You’ll find them in every lifters workout who is trying to build stronger legs and glutes.
The squat and the hip hinge movement are two functional movements that are important for normal daily life. You squat and use the hip hinge movement found in a hex bar deadlift every day without ever realizing when you pick something up off the floor, sit down in a chair to picking your child up.
The hex bar deadlift and squat target large muscle groups and can develop lower body strength and power.
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Deadlift vs squat
While there is certainly some overlap in terms of the muscles involved, they are different compound movements, which means that your muscles are going to be working together in different ways on each exercise.
In the squat, you’re trying to stabilize the bar on your back in a high and low bar squat, you’re going to be using stabilizer muscles in your core that don’t receive much attention from the deadlift.
Either way, if you’re looking to develop size and strength across your body, then incorporating both deadlifts and squats into your regular routine is the best approach.
Deadlifts and squats are good exercises for anyone looking to improve size, strength and power.
The deadlift and squat work similar muscles including your gluteus maximus (butt), erector spinae,
Hex bar deadlift
The hex bar deadlift, also known as the trap bar deadlift, is a variation to a conventional barbell deadlift.
The hex bar gets its name from the hexagonal-shaped bar. You stand in the middle of the hexagon and hold the handles on each side of you. You follow the rest of the lift as you do in the traditional deadlift.
Using the bar in this deadlift variation allows you to take the stress off of your lower back and put it onto your legs. In fact, the hex bar deadlift is a hybrid between a traditional back squat and a conventional deadlift, giving you the best of both worlds.
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 weight 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.
Hex bar deadlifts
- Load the trap bar with the desired weight.
- Stand in the middle of the trap bar so that your legs are equal distance from the handles.
- Bend down to grab the handles. You should grab the handle so that your hands are in line with your feet.
- Sit your butt back until your shoulders are directly over your feet. Ensure that your spine is as neutral/flat as possible
- Keep your shins vertical to hit the muscles similarly to barbell deadlifts.
- Stand up with the load similarly to the barbell. Be sure to “tighten” your body before standing up.
- Lower your body remembering to add hip flexion (think hip hinge) and control the weight on the way down, the same way you did on the way up.
Barbell squats—high bar squats and low bar squat—are classic exercises for building strength and muscle mass in the lower body, as well as developing core strength and stability.
There are several squat variations you can include in your workouts. A high bar back squat would place the load on your traps, a low bar back squat would place the load on your rear deltoids, and a front squat would place the load on your front deltoids.
A barbell squat can work your posterior chain muscles from legs, through to glutes, abs, lower back and your upper back.
Benefits of barbell squats
Heavy load capacity
You can load the barbell with a heavier weight than in comparison to what you can do with dumbbells.
Can help with other lifts
Engages large muscles
Barbell squats engage a number of large muscle groups to work together including quads, posterior chain, core and back.
Types of barbell squats
- Using a squat rack, place the loaded straight barbell at shoulder height
- Wedge the bar in the crook of your shoulder
- Place your hands just beyond shoulder-width and try to get the base of your four fingers around the bar
- Drive your elbows up, so that your triceps are parallel to the floor
- Stand up to lift the bar from the rack
- Take a step back and set your squat stance
- Bend at your knees, while trying to sit between your thighs to stay more upright
- Stop once your thighs are parallel to the floor or slightly below
- Push the floor away to stand up
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and the standard barbell resting on your traps.
- Your arms should make right angles as you grip the bar.
- Keeping your core tight, lower into squat position while keeping your upper body upright
- When reaching the lower part of your squat, push through your heels and return to the starting position
- Hold the bar above your head with your grip set wide.
- Keep your arms locked out
- As you begin to squat down keep the core braced and the hips neutral
- Squat downward below parallel
- Work to keep the barbell overhead and the chest up as you push back up to your starting position
Are trap bar deadlifts better than squats?
Both can fit within your program as they help improve both help improve strength and target different muscles.
You should include deadlift variations and squat variations into your lower body workouts. They are both important for lower body muscle development and overall physical health.