More Mass: Hexagon Bar Deadlift vs Straight Bar Deadlift

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Hexagon Bar Deadlift vs Straight Bar Deadlift

 by: Robbie Durand

The deadlift exercise is commonly performed to develop strength and power, and activated muscles of the legs, back, hips, abdominals, arms, and delts.  One popular variation is the hexagonal barbell deadlift. However, there are no studies that have yet investigated the muscle activation of the deadlift vs the hexagon deadlift.  One of the advantages of the hexagon bar deadlift is lower strain on the lower back.  A previous study reported that the hexagon bar can reduced stress on the lumbar region while enhancing force, velocity, and power.

Researchers compared the hexagonal bar deadlift to the barbell deadlift.  Twenty men, with deadlifting experience volunteered to participate in the study. All participants completed a one-repetition maximum test with each barbell on two separate occasions. Three repetitions at 65% and 85% 1RM were performed with each barbell on a third visit. At the end of the study, the results revealed there was no significant difference for 1RM values between the straight and hexagonal barbells. Significantly greater muscle activation was found from the vastus lateralis (quads) for both the concentric and eccentric phases of the hexagonal barbell compared to the straight barbell deadlift, while the straight barbell deadlift led to significantly greater muscle activation from the bicep femoris (hamstrings) during the concentric phase (lifting phase) and the erector spinae (lower back) during the eccentric phase compared to the corresponding values for the hexagonal barbell deadlift. So in sum, hexagon deadlift work more quads while straight bar deadlifts work more hamstrings.

In addition, the hexagonal barbell deadlift demonstrated significantly greater peak force, peak power, and peak velocity compared to the straight barbell deadlift values. These results suggest that the barbells led to different patterns of muscle activation, and that the hexagonal barbell maybe more effective at developing maximal force, power, and velocity. So if you suffer from back pain or you need more quad size, than the hexagon deadlift can be a useful exercise, but if you need to focus on building up your lower back and hamstrings, than deadlifts are the best choice. 

Camara KD, Coburn JW, Dunnick DD, Brown LE, Galpin AJ, Costa PB. An Examination Of Muscle Activation And Power Characteristics While Performing The Deadlift Exercise With Straight And Hexagonal Barbells. J Strength Cond Res. 2016 Jan 29. [Epub ahead of print]

Swinton, P. A., Stewart, A., Agouris, I., Keogh, J. W., & Lloyd, R. A biomechanical analysis of straight and hexagonal barbell deadlifts using submaximal loads. J Strength Cond Res 25: 2000-2009, 2011.

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