MEGA HEX, HEX, HI-HEX - Which One for My Program?
There are three different kinds of Hex Bars: the regular Hex Bar, the High Hex Bar and the Mega Hex Bar. Each one has its own function and advantage. If you use the Hex Bar for a core lift as we rec
By Dr. Greg Shepard
Published: Spring 2001
A Hex Bar is like the old Trap Bar, but with a superior hexagon shape. Most use it as a safer way to do Dead Lifts. It strengthens the lower back, thigh, trunk and trap muscles/tendons. The Hex Bar workout can be done in the shortest amount of time of all core lifts and is space efficient.
We (BFS) use the Hex Bar primarily as a way to build jumping strength as compared to the Power Clean or Power Snatch which improves jumping power. Therefore, we use a jump stance when using all three kinds of Hex Bars.
The Regular Hex Bar: Most athletes will want to lift with the regular Hex Bar most of the time. It weighs 45 pounds, just like a standard Olympic bar. Its height off the floor is the also same. I suggest that all athletes start out on the regular Hex Bar. Basic technique guidelines are as follows: Elbows straight and locked, eyes on a target which will stretch the chin up, spread the chest, and lock in the lower back. The hips should, at most, be no higher than the head. The following technique guideline might be surprising to some, but the hips should also not be as low as possible: for most athletes, keeping the hips a little lower than the head is better than a lot lower. It is kind of like an offensive lineman's stance. If some athlete's have a problem with the Hex Bar tipping either forward or backward, try staggering the grip a little. Staggering the grip means placing one hand forward a little and one hand backward a little. Finally, for the technique of the lift itself, I prefer to give a slight bounce off the floor with the weight when doing reps. It is much harder on the lower back if you come to a complete rest between reps. Also, at the completion of each set, I highly recommend doing three shoulder shrugs. This really develops the Trap muscles and tendons. This in turn can stabilize and strengthen the whole neck area, which should prevent injuries.
The High Hex Bar: Many times tall athletes or heavy younger athletes have a difficult time getting into a safe position when using the regular Hex Bar. These same athletes would also have difficulties squatting or cleaning. I look for two problems. First, is the lower back. If the lower back is rounded and they just can't get their lower back to look safe, then these athletes should use the High Hex bar. The unique design of the High Hex Bar elevates the distance from the floor by 4.5 inches as compared to the regular Hex Bar. This extra 4.5 inches is usually the difference maker as far as technique and safety. Second, sometimes tall athletes can get into a safe position at the start but as soon as they begin the lift, they really struggle with their technique. Use the High Hex Bar also in this case. Finally, some athletes may have worked on the regular Hex Bar just fine and gone through three 4-week cycles, but have perhaps hit a plateau. To add a variation to training, you might consider going through one 4-week cycle on the High Hex Bar and then return to the regular Hex Bar. The odds would favor that this strategy would be effective.
The Mega Hex Bar: The Mega Hex Bar is massive. It has 30 more pounds of steel in itís frame and weighs 75 pounds! It also has 3Ē longer sleeves which means you can lift as a lot more weight. Many coaches like to use Bumper Plates on the Hex Bar. Bumper Plates are a little wider than steel plates and sometimes a lot wider. With strong lifters, this presents a problem of room. The extra length of the Mega Hex Bar allows an athlete to put on up to 860 lbs of slim line plates on the bar. It can be easily flipped over with 400+ pounds. This makes it extremely easy to switch lifts without unloading the bar. Another advantage of the Mega Hex Bar is the 75 pounds it weighs. The extra 30 pounds allow you to move to heavier weights more quickly. Finally, there is that psychological factor. An idea is to set a guideline. Only strong people use the Mega Hex Bar. Are you strong enough? Only those that can Hex Bar lift over 415 pounds qualify to use the Mega Hex. Only those who qualify can touch or use the Mega Hex. Make it a positive prestige tool.