Hex bar vs Straight bar - Weight Lifting

Hi All,

I was wondering if anyone had any information regarding using a hex/trap bar for deadlifts and squats and how it relates to cycling? Is it better, worse, or no different than a regular Olympic bar?

I’ve read that it allows users to lifter heavier as it doesn’t isolate the quads and hamstring as much and that it is safer on the spine, particularly for home gymers without a PT spotting them the whole time.
Any other pros or cons?

My experience is that with a hex bar you don’t feel it in the lats like an Olympic bar deadlift, so perhaps less ‘whole body’. The grip width is also fixed - as a smaller person I find this a little wide to feel natural, but I’m used to it now.

I think of a hex bar deadlift as being a bit more like a squat, but without the issue of a load high up on the body. Safer for sure as you can always just drop the bar straight down. Many squat fails seem to either impose a rotational load on the spine or neck.


“hex/trap bar for deadlifts and squats and how it relates to cycling? Is it better, worse, or no different than a regular Olympic bar?”

Definitely a different lift. As it relates to cycling, no different.

If you’re doing it to protect your back, you are kidding yourself. Not safer, IMO. Buy the ironmind hip belt instead.

I only ever trained a lot of trap bar once back in the day because it was contested in an odd-lift meet I did. In terms of muscle recruitment I would say it DOES put more load on the quads & vastus medialus and DOES NOT put as much load on the glutes and hams. It DOES allow you to do a deadlift-like motion without a mixed grip, which is good. IMO you should never deadlift with a mixed grip. Hook grip instead.

For some real fun, try deadlifting with the bar behind you instead of in front.

Try farmer’s walks.

Try suitcase deadlifts.

So much fun…


Here’s Mehdi’s take on it, in his usual inimitable style :slight_smile:

“The trap bar is usually a band-aid solution for people who lack the patience to learn proper Deadlift form. But it’s less effective than Deadlifting with a bar, and thus no substitute for it.”

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Completely agree… I absolutely do not have the patience to learn proper deadlift form… so I have ordered myself a trap bar :+1:

Now I’m watching all the “how to deadlift” videos on the internet - any resources better than others?


Deadlift form:

  • Feet shoulder width apart under the bar
  • The bar should ‘split your foot in half’ as in half in front, half behind
  • With straight legs, reach down to grip the bar
  • If unsure of grip, go underhand left, overhand right
  • The inside of your elbows should be close to the outside of your knees
  • Bend your knees until your shins hit the bar ensuring heels are flat on the ground at all times
  • Take the slack out of the bar by pulling on it slightly without the weight coming off the floor
  • Drive hips to lift bar, chest stays proud
  • Hips should thrust towards bar on lock out (don’t force this)

@ me if I’ve missed anything!

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irrespective of which bar you use, this is terrifying to read and is a great way to wind up injured. The fundamentals of proper form are the same between the two.


Well, you’ve missed that he’ll be lifting with a trap bar…:slightly_smiling_face:

And Ive missed that @kevstraining isnt the OP :sweat_smile:

Ryan Flaherty is the director of performance for Nike. He used to run a performance center in Arizona where top prospects would come to train before the nfl combine to try and get their 40yd times improved. He helped train Meb to win the Boston marathon when he was almost 40 years old, with the logic that if he can get each stride to travel 3” further, he’d win the race. He did extensive testing and studying to determine the biggest factor in determining success was your force number. This is essentially the amount of force you can exert on a force plate treadmill relative to your weight. And he determined the hands down #1 exercise to increase your force number is the hex bar deadlift.

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I definitely came across far more relaxed about proper form than I actually am.

I am genuinely concerned about learning this stuff without being able to get proper in person training.

Mostly concerned about rounding my back - I’m planning on getting plenty of practice with a low load and video myself from the side. I think I’ve managed to get an ok idea of what the lift should look like but not what it feels like.

Hahaha that’ll teach me for not reading it properly… :slight_smile:

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Best advice I ever got when I first started lifting, take in a breath and brace your core like someone is about to punch you in the gut, then lift (whether it be DL or squat). This helps brace your spine internally and makes it very hard to round your back.

" I absolutely do not have the patience to learn proper deadlift form… so I have ordered myself a trap bar"

@kevstraining I’ll just say one more time that if you think lifting with a trap bar is safer for your back (or whatever muscle group) I think you’re wrong! So do proceed with caution.

Also, I will add that despite my enthusiasm for the lift, I’ve been known to say that the RISK of deadlift-like motions is not worth the BENEFIT for cyclists. Once upon a time I was advised by an elite (as elite as you can be!) WSM competitor that the risk of deadlifting was not worth the benefit for strongman competitors, either.

I don’t know about that last bit but FOR SURE you can get 100% of the benefit of weightlifting for cycling without deadlifting.

Once had this discussion with some powerlifter buds and they were explaining that people were afraid of the deadlift because they didn’t know how to do it & they had their heads all pumped full of air by exercise scientists who didn’t understand the deadlift…etc. So I asked for a show of hands…how many people here have been injured while deadlifting?

Silence. Plates clanking. More silence. ‘Eff you. This is why nobody likes talking to you.’ A point which I had to concede. But a point that I won’t concede is that deadlifting can lead to injury. I don’t think the small risk of injury associated with the movement justifies the cycling gains you’ll get from it.

But I still deadlift a couple times a week. I like me some deadlifts.

He’s buying a hex bar to try out a variety of lifts with it, Nate was using one iirc.

I use the hex bar, but after doing conventional barbell deadlifts, I just couldn’t get used to the hex bar in the “handles up” orientation. I use it “handles down” which is closer to the conventional position vertically. There’s lots of articles on hex vs. conventional and just a few on “up” vs. “down”. Here’s an article the covers off a lot the differences Trap Bar Deadlifts are Underrated • Stronger by Science


Most likely. It allows you to work those muscles to max capacity without being limited by other factors that a traditional deadlift have.

And if you really want to get specific, he recommends to do the lift, and then drop at the top. Lowering the bar from the top is the part of the lift that grows muscle and mass. He’s trying to get his athletes to get stronger without gaining extra mass. He’s been on some podcasts and I think it’s a really interesting listen. I think triathlon taren, Peter attia (I think), and I know Tim Ferris had him on. I built a workout routine based on listening to these podcasts. I need to go back and re-listen because I forgot what it was and didn’t write it down. :frowning:

I have recently made the switch from an olympic bar to a hex bar, specifically for deadlifts. I am very tall and have always felt a bit unstable when deadlifting but this problem is now almost gone with the hex bar. You can also flip it over to make a slightly harder lift (not using the handles). In terms of physical differences I feel like my quads are a little more loaded up with the hex bar and my back a little less so, but that’s just my experience.

Yeah it was a recent podcast too, I think the one Keegan was on?

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It was the recent podcasts that persuaded me to give the hex bar a try.

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